Sunday, 16 June 2019

SŽ, Slovenia Trip Report 10-12 June 2019

664 106 departs Most na Soči and crosses the Idrijka River with the 10:38 Autovlak to Bohinjska Bistrica. 12/06/2019

In the usual position 664 112 waits at Ljublijana. 661 032 is stabled
behind having arrived during the day. 10/06/2019
It was 2015 in the dying days of class 664 action on the 'Citadella' from Hodos to Pragersko that I had made my previous fleeting visit to Slovenia. At the end of my trip report I concluded that it was a country I would like to come back to, but doubted it would be before the 664's had finished on this route (I also correctly predicted that the electrification would be finished before that of the GWR electrification!). Both predictions would prove to be correct!

363 021 at Zidani Most with a service to Ljublijana.

The big 'Reagan' 664 diesels have indeed finished on the international train however with SŽ announcing a sizeable order for new multiple units to be delivered from 2020 it was time to return. Again a short trip of just two nights was all that could be fitted in with the simple target to pick up one of the big Alsthom Co-Co 363 'broken nose' electrics and also to get a ride on the 'Autovlak' car train which runs between Bhoinjska Bistrica and Most na Soči - Now the last regular diesel hauled train in Slovenia.

Monday 10th June-
363 021 follows the river Sava with a service from Dobova to Ljublijana. 10/06/2019

541 005 waits to depart Ljublijana for Dobova. 10/06/2019
An uneventful flight out to Ljublijana with Wizz Air saw us arrive into the main station shortly after midday. After exploring the station and photographing 664112, which was stabled in the usual spot over at the west side of the station we took the first loco hauled train with 541005 on the 13:45 to Dobova as far as Zidani Most. The plan was then to pick up EC246 'Citadella'- although no longer a bet for a 664 the train did now present a good chance for a 363!

363 015 is in charge of the Citadella at Zagorgi. 10/06/2019

The wait for a 'Zig-Zag' was a lot shorter than expected as the first train to appear along the river was 363021 on a passenger service- Not the 'Citadella' but R5066 inbound from Dobova- a 342 duty. Target number one had been achieved very efficiently! Of course 363021 was taken, but being greedy we then bailed off at Zagorgi in the hope that 'Citadella' might produce another! A couple of freights passed and caught us off guard, both 363 hauled. Surely it would be too good to be true to get a fourth 363 in a row on our train? No- 363015 was in charge of the 'Citadella' and took us forward to Ljublijana, departing 8 minutes late- a lot better than the 50 minute delay of my last trip!
With the weather closing in 363 025 pauses at Borovnika bound for Koper.
Unfortunately the train lost a little more time and arrived into Ljublijana just in time to miss the next train I wanted to cover, the 16:50 to Dobova with a 342 in charge. I had a couple more targets in mine for 363's however, and both produced. 363024 on IC502 'Pohorje' and 363025 on IC509 'Koper'- the later was taken to Borovnica, heading into an electrical storm before returning on a unit. 664112 at the stabling point had been joined by 661032 and these were photographed one more time before heading into town to check into our accommodation and find some dinner content with the day's haul. 363's appeared to be out in abundance. The surprise was the lack of 342's! None covered and none even photographed- something that would require a plan for the morning.

Tuesday 11th June-
Beneath a threatening sky 665 105 waits for it's next Autovlak working from Most na Soči. 11/06/2019

A very shabby 315 207 is bound for Dobova. 11/06/2019.
Up at a sensible time to purchase a meat Burek for breakfast and head to the station. Having passed on a stupidly early start there were few loco hauled moves available before our planned train to Jesenice to head over to the Autovlak. The only option available from the diagrams to net a 342 was a quick leap to Ljublijana Zalog. The outbound run had a late start with one of the elderly Polish (EN57) style 315 EMU's. The return disappointingly was a Desiro- not the hoped for 342. Running late into Ljublijana gave us an unfavourable +0 onto EC212 to Jesinice, fortunately the EC was running a few minutes late also, but less fortunately was powered by 541005 (now not required since yesterday)! Also briefly sighted out of the window was the fireless steam loco used at the Ljublijana power station - this must be one of the last steam locos in regular use in Europe now- maybe worth investigating if I ever have some more time here!

643 031 pauses in the Ljublijana carriage sidings. 11/06/2019.
There was a little wait at Jesinice for the branch train during which several freights were seen. The DMU to Nova Gorica was then boarded. After around 15 minutes at Bled Jezero we were all chucked off and onto a bus. Not what we had planned and worry quickly set in about how this might affect the Autovlak! As things turned out the line was only shut as far as Bohinjska Bistrica from where a DMU was waiting to take passengers onwards to Nova Gorica, all be it it 35 minutes late.

664 105 runs around its train at Most na Soči. 11/06/2019

After checking into our accommodation for the night it was back to the station for the arrival of the car train, behind 664105 in place of the usual class 644 (I understand 644020 is on maintenance). This was a good result, although it did leave the 644 as a required class! 664105 was taken all the way to Most na Soči, the gripper noticeably bemused that it was then taken back up the hill to Podbrdo! Here we transfered to a DMU to Grahovo. With the clouds now rolling in it was probably inevitable that the viaduct shot was in cloud (if only it had been 5 minutes earlier!) but it was a pleasant beer stop!
Travelling on the Autovlak is a unique and picturesque experience. 11/06/2019
Back to Most na Soči by DMU to pick up the Autovlak for a last run back up the hill, 664105 making a great sight basking in the sun with a threatening sky looming behind. It wasn't until walking back to our accommodation we finally got rained on, before enjoying a good final night meal.

Wednesday 12th June-
A grey morning at Bohinjska Bistrica as 'new' class 664 106 takes it's turn on the Autovlak. 12/06/2019.

Passing the Autovlak at Podbrodo with 664 106. 12/06/2019
There were a couple of options this morning before making our way back to the airport and home (how was it almost over so soon?!). Aware of the potential chaos of the bus replacement and having still not had a 342 option 1 was to head straight back to Ljublijana to try some more moves. Option 2 was to use the local buses to spend the morning on Lake Bled enjoying the sunshine. However hen 664106 was viewed on the arriving Autovlak it was obvious that option 3 would be used - another run to Most na Soči and back with our second 'Reagan' of the trip! The train was taken down the hill before being photographed on the return, the journey back up the hill then being taken by DMU.

813 021 ready to start its train from Bohinjska Bistrica 12/06/2019.

541 021 waites with a freight in the yard at Jesenice. 12/06/2019
Had we not waited 15 minutes en-route for a late running passing train the bus replacement would have got us back to Jesenice in time to make our planned connection onto IC211 back to Kranj (and Ljublijana). As it was we missed the connection by around 8 minutes. Research had already revealed there was a back up train behind, but no chance of picking up another loco now. We left SŽ at Kranj for a taxi I had booked from Jesenice to the airport. This station is actually much closer to the airport than Ljublijana and the 15 minute taxi ride cost 30- perhaps more than I had expected, but it made our flight!

664 105 powers the Autovlak over the impressive viaduct at Grahovo. 11/06/2019.
I always knew the trip would be too short, and it was. But it did also achieve everything I had hoped to despite my worries about actually picking up a 363! The one disappointment perhaps would be the failure to pick up, or even see a 342 - while the bane of the 363 bashers they are still quite nice locos!
363 021 pauses with a freight at Jesenice as the weather closes in. 12/06/2019
Slovenia is a beautiful country but slightly lacking in loco hauled passenger trains, though does seem to have freight in abundance. The Autovlak comes highly recommended- great traction, great scenery and a very interesting operation. If the classic traction sticks I'm sure I'll be back- and maybe get the 644 one day! It remains to be seen how much loco haulage will remain after the new EMU's are delivered- though it is hard to see an outcome where much more than a handful of Euro Cities remain hauled- as a sign of the times just as I returned from the trip it was announced that a Pendolino would replace the loco hauled classic train on IC502/3 'Pohorje'.
Plenty of Alsthom 'Zig-Zag' action at Ljublijana with 363 015 and 363 021 bringing in subsequent arrivals. 10/06/2019

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Sunshine for Swanage!

The weekend of 10-12th May marked the 2019 annual diesel gala and beer festival at the Swanage Railway. Always a great event and one that is firmly placed in many enthusiasts diaries, this year was to be no exception- and fortunately the railway was once again blessed with a beautiful weekend which makes this part of the country such a pleasure to be in, and of course pleases the photographer!

D6515 (33012) hauls the second Swanage bound train on Saturday 11th May. Typical Southern Region traction would have been common on lines such as this before their closure. The remains of Corfe Castle stand high above the horizon.

D7535 (25185), visiting from the South Devon Railway and recently re-painted is seen shunting near to the shed at Swanage next to some of the regular steam locos which are being serviced.

A regular at the line and another typical SR scene, 33111 works it's train south into Corfe Castle.

As well as the visiting locos to the railway the first coach from the Swanage 4TC project was also on display at Corfe Castle. The vehicle, DTSO 76275 has been painted in blue/grey liver and is waiting for further overhauled coaches to arrive from restoration in order to form a push/pull set for use on the raiwlay. 76275 is something of a survivor as after it's 4TC was abandoned it lived on re-formed in to South Eastern 4-VEP unit 3582 until the early 2000's- surviving refurbishment and finally being retired into preservation. Cab visits were available and also offered an alternative view of trains arriving from Swanage. The coach looks great in it's blue grey livery and will certainly be a great addition to the fleet at the Swanage Railway once it is complete and operating with class 33 locomotives. For more information on the Swanage 4TC group see here.

Another star attraction at the event was 26007 visiting from Barrow Hill. The loco looks pristine as it arrives into Corfe Castle with a late afternoon service from Swanage complete with the Devon Belle observation car.

One guest visitor that would not have been foreseen just a few years ago was GBRf's 59003. Part of the original build of the class dating from 1985 'Yeoman Highlander' was shipped to Germany in 1997 for use abroad and was not expected to ever return- however in 2014 GBRf secured the loco as part of their expanding fleet and 59003 can now be seen working train in the UK once more.

No Southern Region railway gala would be complete without one of the venerable class 73's. GBRf have regularly supported the Swanage Diesel Gala with one of the class and this year was no exception. Largely used as a brake converter loco for 59003, 73119 'Borough of Eastleigh' also hauled a return trip solo on each day of the gala.

Another view of 73119 returning from Corfe Castle to Swanage.

Another star attraction was 50007 'Hercules', owned by the class 50 alliance and currently wearing the livery of GBRf. The loco, along with classmate 50049 'Defiance' was repainted by Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh earlier this year and will be used on an as required basis by GBRf. The painting of heritage traction into new and modern liveries is always controversial but it has been been good to see how well this livery has generally been received, suiting the 50's very well and with a certain throw back to the BR 'Large Logo' colours that have always looked so good on the class.

50007 is seen again tailing a train up to recently re-opened extension to the line up to the River Frome Viaduct (towards Wareham). 50007 was carrying the identity of long scrapped classmate 50014 'Warspite' on one side.

One of the stars of the show was 97205 (31163) visiting from the Chinnor & Princes Risbrough railway. The loco has recently been outshopped in Derby BR Technical Centre colours. While never worn by 31163 itself a number of classmates did wear this livery and the 31 certainly looks the part and has proved very popular on the gala circuit so far this year.

Another view of 50007 with a service from the River Frome Viaduct to Swanage. This year mainline stock was not available and the railway did not operate into Wareham itself, running only to the NR boundary and with a 'rail replacement' bus service providing the connection between Wareham and Norden.

The classic view from Corfe Castle itself looking across the Purbeck landscape towards Poole Harbour as 50007 leads a late afternoon train out of Norden with 26007 on the rear.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Thumping back to Charring Cross

1001 passes through Waterloo East working the Dave Markwick Memorial Tour. Little has changed in this view since the units were in regular service on this line- a stark contrast to London Bridge which would be barely recognisable to the 'Thumper'. 06/04/2019.
One of the more interesting heritage trains running on the national network is the 'Hastings Diesel' 1001, formed up from various DEMU vehicles which worked the Hastings to London Charring Cross service from 1957 to 1986. Since preserved by Hastings Diesels Limited the unit makes several trips each year from its base at St Leonards Depot, usually around London and the South East. The DEMU's, affectionately known as 'Thumpers' due to the sound of their 4-SRKT engines are also distinctive in having flat sides brought about by the narrow 'Hastings' gauge because of the narrow tunnels on the route (these having been single tracked during electrification). 1001 has seen a lot of work since the end of its BR career- the unit is now fitted with all modern safety systems and has more recently had a sympathetic central door locking system fitted to its slam doors.
1001 stands at Charring Cross waiting its departure back to Hastings, a journey which would have been very familiar to the unit during its BR career. 06/05/2019.
The train was captured on Saturday 6th April while working the Dave Markwick Memorial Tour, named in honour of a long standing volunteer of Hastings Diesels Limited who had served the group for 32 years. The train ran from Hastings to London before taking in freight branches to Grain and Angerstein Wharf before returning once again along its old stamping ground from Charring Cross to Hastings.
Further details of Hastings Diesels Limited and upcoming tours can be found on their website.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

CP Trip Report 27 - 29 March 2019

Shot of the trip- 1413 crosses the second viaduct at Pala with two Schindler coaches in tow while working the 10:05 Marco de Canaveses - Régua in the final days of the Douro blockade - 28/03/2019

Inspiration for this trip started way back in late 2018 when the gen was posted to the europeanrail group (thank you to all that found the info and passed it on) that the Douro valley was to be blockaded for three months with CP1400's working trains between Marco de Canaveses and Pocinho. I've wanted to sample the 'Portuguese 20's' for a while and some guaranteed work on this scenic line was clearly going to be the best chance I would have- now the challenge was to find some time amongst the busy Christmas period! At the beginning of February things were looking bleak- the block had just one month yet and I had a pre-booked trip to Switzerland and an aspiration to go skiing. Eventually skiing won and my time for the Douro disappeared, I had consigned the 1400's to the pile of things I had simply not got around to doing. And then the block was extended by a month. Action time! At short notice it wasn't going to be a bit group trip, but a weekend right at the end of March was identified and flights booked just the week before once the leave had all been approved. The Douro was on!

In central Porto the double-decked Lois I bridge spans the Douro river, Modern trams cross the high level.

Wednesday 27th March:
The heritage tram operation in Porto - very much run for tourists! 27/03/2019
I keep saying that I must stop going on these trips straight from night shifts... so I finished my nights and made my way up to London to meet Rob and then down to Gatwick for the 09:40 Easyjet flight to Porto. There was a bit of a hold up at the baggage carousel but it didn't matter as we had several hours to kill before we could make it onto the Douro valley with the limited timetable. The transfer to Porto from the airport is a simple (but not too frequent) tram taking around 30 minutes. Shortly after midday we were by the quayside eating lunch in the beautiful warm weather. It may have been perfect had a pesky seagull not decided to make off with my brioche! A few photos of the heritage tram operation were taken before walking back up the hill to the impressive Porto São Bento station for the 15:10 service to Caide. The bus operation at Caide was slick and we took the non-stop service to Marco de Canaveses arriving to a view of CP orange 1415 waiting to work the 17:05 to Régua. That was in some 45 minutes time so we put our bags on the train and stopped off at the bar across from the station for a Super Bok beer which was unbelievably just €1 a bottle! 
1415 at Régua ready to work the 18:53 to Marco. 27/03/2019

1415 left on time and headed down the hill, I have to be honest, it really wasn't very loud- but the scenery was good and we scouted some locations for the following morning, and also observed some gradients which would definitely be better in the other direction! 
We passed 1455 at Aregos after a short delay and continued to Régua where we checked into the Hotel Imperio while leaving 1415 and 1413 to do what appeared to be an unnecessary amount of shunting in the station. 
Back for the 18:53 to Marco we were expecting 1413 according to the diagrams I had worked out, which would leave 1415 for the overnight Pochino and to be in position for our photo in the morning (excellent!)- but it didn't work out that way with 1415 working back to Marco.
Bedding down for the night- with their duties finished 1415 and 1455 complete
their shunting duties before stabling at Régua for their morning duties. 28/03/19
We met several other enthusiasts on the train, all bailing at Mirão for the last train back to Régua with 1455, which was sounding a lot better. As expected the loco was swapped at Régua for 1413 to continue to Pochino. Across to the local Charcuterie for dinner which was very good and very cheap before returning to the station for some night shots of the demic narrow gauge steam locos and 1415 with the final arrival since we didn't now know where we would see it since the diagrams had gone to pot and our strong suspicion was that it would sit spare at Régua most of the following day!
Relics at Régua- The narrow gauge line here, like all of those along the Douro is now closed. The Corgo line ceased running after 103 years in 2009 and has since been lifted. An abandoned 9700 DMU vehicle and several Mallet locos still occupy the yard at Régua awaiting their eventual fate. Douro Valley trains use the broad gauge track in the foreground. 28/03/2019.

Thursday 28th March:
1415 arrives into Juncal station working the 13:05 from Marco de Canaveses. €2 bottles of wine were available just across from the station! 28/03/2019
The daytime standby loco 1455 basks in the sun at Régua.
After a good breakfast it was across to the station for the 08:38 departure for Marco. We knew this would be 1413 which went down to Pochino last night, but what we weren't so sure of was which loco would be out on the other diagram. Fortunately the presence of 1413 at the station gave us the right answer, it was orange 1415. Not a bad turn out all things considered and 1413 working the train would leave us with all three locos in the book for haulage without having to try too hard (though it would mean 1415 was unlikely to do the overnight Pochino and not therefore be in position for Friday mornings planned photo). The main objective today was to get a few scenic shots, the first on the viaduct at Pala which would involve the return of our train. 1413 was duly photographed here and a celebratory ice cream was well deserved!
For the long midday recess we chose to head to Juncal as the area looked more attractive than Marco (plus the bar there was no longer required!). This proved a good move and we were joined by Andy Flowers which helped to pass away the time with ease, plus the bar near the station sold us bottles of wine for €2!!!. We were also able to get the info from Andy of a place to stay in Pochino for the night (enabling us to cover the full branch tomorrow and avoiding our currently planned super early taxi move!). Before too long we had booked into Taverna da Julliana (booked through the Original Douro Hotel) for the night. When planning the trip we had intended to stay in Pochino but had failed to find any accommodation.

1413 is seen in the valley landscape between Caldas de Moledo and Rede. 28/03/2019

Returning after our wine break on 1415 down to Rede for our next photos (and more wine). Google maps directed us to the Quinto de S.Tiago winery where I was hoping there might be some wine tasting on offer- but we arrived to find just a burnt out building. Fearing the worst I was poking around in the yard of the building behind when two women appeared and Rob indicated to them 'Wine!?'. Next thing two bottles and two glasses were presented and we were sitting by a pool in the shade looking over the Douro valley with a board of ham and cheese! Result! Funnily enough after photographing 1413 on the 14:53 Régua - Marco we returned for another bottle! 
1415 arrives into Rede working the 08:05 from Marco de Canaveses- our
trains would pass here with 1413 already in the platform. 28/03/2019.
Taking 1413 back to Régua it was then time to check out of our hotel and get some emergency food supplies before taking 1415 on the 'usual' move up to Mirão, this time taking the return all the way through to Pochino. Tonight this involved a complete stock change as well as the loco at Régua, and I'll admit with darkness now fallen and still recovering from my night shifts I slept for a fair bit of the run. We didn't attempt photos at Pochino, electing sensibly to seek out our accommodation. We needn't have tried too hard as the proprietors with a paper note reading 'JAMEF' tracked us down in their car near to the station. We were shown to our rooms and asked if we were hungry. Of course we were, but the restaurant was closed. No worry though, we were shown in anyway and food was produced, an excellent steak and I'm fairly sure that the port was compulsory. I'm sure our host was going to have one whether we did or not. Either way it was all delicious!

Friday 29th March:
The further reaches of the Douro valley are undoubtedly the most scenic. With a mirror-like reflection in the river the rolling hills and vineyards are seen in the early morning light from the train down the valley. 29/03/2019

1455 waits to leave Pocinho with the 07:07 to Marco de Canaveses. 29/03/19
After all that wine my head didn't hurt as much as I had feared! We got up early enough to explore the bridge and station at Pochino (oh how wonderful would it have been to see this area before all the narrow gauge finished!?) before boarding 1455 which would take us up the line. We met one of the ‘no open windows’ guards, though to be fair to him it was pretty chilly on the train. We also soon learned that there was no problem to stand with the door open in the vestibule.

1415 approaches Rede with the 10:38 departure from Régua 29/03/2019
Passing trains at Rede. 29/03/2019
The photo plan today was to try a shot on the causeway at Aregos, which would be the return of our train with 1455, but I really wanted a shot of the orange one! Passing Régua the standby loco was 1413 which meant that orange 1415 had done the early diagram. I bailed out at Caldas de Moledo for a quickly hatched plan to photograph it prior to passing the train at Rede, leaving Rob to do the sensible thing and go for the shot we had planned alone. Fortunately bailing paid off and I managed to find a good view to catch 1415 on the 08:05 Marco - Régua. This then left me a good couple of hours to explore the area and walk up to Rede to photograph both trains arriving there with their next services. 1415 was traction again for the 10:38 Régua - Marco de Canaveses and our final ride behind a 'Portuguese 20'. After finding our way around camera crews at Marco who were filming a piece on the blockade we got onto the express bus again to Caide. The bus was quick enough that there was a long wait at Caide for a connecting train to Porto- certainly time for a final Super Bok with Andy.

A SOREFRAME built class 2240 EMU waits its next duty.

We spent a short while at Porto Campanhã hoping to photograph a loco hauled intercity and maybe some freight, but it wasn't to be- the Lisbon train producing a Pendolino. Back to the city it was then for a final wander round before making our way to the airport again on the 'slug' tram for the 18:00 to Stanstead with Ryanair. 

Spot the train! A class 3400 EMU navigates the cliffs above the Douro river as it makes its final approach to Porto São Bento station. Further down the cliff is the trackbed which remains from the former narrow gauge railway into Porto. The concrete bridge in the background carries the main Porto - Lisbon railway. The clouds above were the first we had seen in the entirety of our visit! 29/03/2019

A quick re-plan of my itinerary produced a very pleasing shot of 1415 departing from Caldas de Moledo with the 08:05 Marco de Canaveses - Régua. The CP liveried loco definitely being my favourite photographically. The characteristics of this wine growing region are very apparent with wineries hugging both sides of the Douro valley. 29/03/2019.
My fainal sighting of 1415 at Marco de Canaveses. Will we
meet again one day? Quite likely not. 29/03/2019
All in all an excellent trip- and thank you to all those who have provided gen during the block (and also of course to CP for allowing it to overrun long enough for us to get out there!!!). The weather was perfect ('emergency shorts' were in use!) and the sun just that little bit higher at the end of March to allow most of the shots we wanted to achieve. After some disappointing thrash the first day the 1400's proved to be great entertainment, especially when combined with the stunning scenery of the Douro and the opening windows and doors of the Schindler stock. We learned on our return to Porto that after the blockade was due to finish on the Sunday the coaches had already been sold to an alternative operator, with rumours that the 1400's would be stored, the tourist train on the Douro Valley are due to run with A/C Spanish DMU's this year. Maybe this really was the last swansong of the 1400's? I'm glad I was there to enjoy it.

Not the hoped-for loco, Pendolino 4007 pauses at Porto Campanhã with a
Lisbon bound service. 29/03/2019